Series Preview – Cubs @ Brewers; April 19 – April 21, 2013

No rain outs this weekend!  It seems as though the Brewers have found a groove since playing the Cubs as they are playing better of late.  Yesterday’s Cubs game was very encouraging as far as the offense goes, it was some of the best contact of the year, and they will see the best weather they have all year in Milwaukee, thanks roof.  I really think the bats want to take off, Anthony Rizzo hit the ball hard in almost every at bat yesterday, Soriano hit his first home run yesterday, and Castro walked twice yesterday, all good things.  Always a fun series in Milwaukee as a lot of Cubs fans usually make the trip up there, and it is rather important that the Cubs get off to a good start to this trip in Milwaukee or this ten game trip might not turn out so great.

Standings 4-19

Last Series:

The Cubs split a rain shortened two game set with the Rangers at home.

The Brewers swept a three game series against the Giants in Milwaukee.

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Friday, April 19, 2013 – 7:10 PM CST on WCIU
  • Saturday, April 20, 2013 – 6:10 PM CST on CSN Chicago
  • Sunday, April 21, 2013 – 1:10 PM CST on CSN Chicago

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Jeff Samardzija (1-2, 2.75)
– Career vs. Brewers (17 appearances, 3 GS) (2-3, 3.93)

Game Two – Edwin Jackson (0-2, 6.06)
– Career vs. Brewers (8 GS) (3-3, 3.57)

Game Three – Scott Feldman (0-2, 6.00)
– Career vs. Brewers (1 GS) (1-0, 0.00)

Brewers:

Game One – Marco Estrada (1-0, 4.50)
– Career vs. Cubs (9 appearances,  4 GS)  (3-0, 3.56)

Game Two – Hiram Burgos (0-1, 4.50)
– Career vs. Cubs (First appearance, Major League Debut)

Game Three – Wily Peralta (0-1, 6.19)
– Career vs. Cubs (1 GS) (0-0, 2.70)

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not:

The Cubs hitting seems to be picking things up, sure it’s really only one game, but at this point I’ll take it.  The Cubs could be considered to be falling on some back luck recently, especially in the Giants series.  The Cubs went 3-6 on the rain shortened home stand and the record Castillo previewcould have been the exact opposite if they could just close games out.  Welington Castillo has been red-hot really all season long, as he is hitting .425 on the season with three double, a home run, and four RBI’s.  Starlin Castro is also gaining traction at the plate as he has his average up to .311 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs, and six RBI’s.  Anthony Rizzo has been struggling a bit, but found some bad luck recently with line outs, I think he has a big series in Milwaukee, he looks better at the plate of late.  The Cubs starting pitching has been outstanding this year, the cumulative ERA is 3.15 which is sixth best in the Majors, conversely the bullpen ERA is 5.73 which is 29th in the Majors.  Obviously, if that number is just a little bit lower the Cubs could have four or five more wins.

The Brewers are coming off an impressive showing against the defending champion Giants sweeping the three game set and outscoring them 21 to 13.  Carlos Gomez is scorching hot for the Lucroy previewBrewers, over the last five games he’s hitting .556 (10-for18) with a triple, home run, and two RBI’s.  Jonathan Lucroy seems to have snapped out of his early season slump as well, he is hitting .350 (7-for-20) in his last five games with two home runs and five RBI’s.  Ryan Braun has gone ice-cold, some are blaming a neck injury that he is coming off of because you just don’t see these types of numbers from him, he’s hitting .091 (2-for-22) in his last six games, those two hits were home runs.  Milwaukee’s pitching is what is holding them back right now, and it’s been a mix of starters not getting the job done, and the bullpen being very unpredictable.  Their team ERA is 4.75 which is good for 26th in the Majors.

Bold Prediction:

I like the way the Cubs swung the bats against the Rangers yesterday and I think the warm weather (inside) in Milwaukee will continue that trend.  I think the Cubs win two out of three this weekend, and might have an opportunity to sweep on Sunday.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cubs Can’t Get Out of Their Own Way in Loss to Giants

Cubs April 11 line

Full Box Score

  I suppose this one sums up the Cubs season to this point, some good, some bad, some really bad, and a loss.  The Cubs looked like they were going to cruise in this one as they built a 5-0 lead in the third inning, but as quickly as they built it, they lost it.  The turning point seemed to be the 4th and 5th innings.  Scott Feldman was working a lot of deep counts so he wasn’t exactly cruising, but he was effective.  One the ropes again in the fifth Feldman looked to get an inning ending ground out but Castro booted it which allowed a run to score and the inning to continue.  Angel Pagan followed with a ground ball to the right side which should have been the end of the inning but a Rizzo 4-11combo of Feldman getting over to first slowly and Brent Lillibridge being Brent Lillibridge resulted in no out and the inning continued, again.  When it was all said and done it was a 5-4 Cubs lead heading to the 5th, that’s where the wheels came off again.  The Giants plated three runs in the 5th to take a 7-5 lead, the Cubs crept closer in the eighth and threatened in the ninth only to come up short in another mind numbing loss that was seemingly there for the taking.

At The Plate – Early on it seemed like the Cubs were going to break out in a big way as they scored five times through three innings, but as it happens so often, the offense stopped, and could only score one more time over the last six innings.  All eight position players had at least one hit in the Cubs lineup, with three guys having multi-hit games.  Starlin Castro was 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored, he’s now hitting .275 on the season.  Nate Schierholtz tried his best to make his former employer regret letting him go as he was 3-for-4 with two runs scored.  Welington Castillo continued to destroy the ball as he was 2-for-4 with a run scored, Brent Lillibridge and Anthony Rizzo each had two RBI’s, with Rizzo’s coming on a two-run home run in the third.

On The Mound – Scott Feldman was good and average I would say in this one.  He had solid command of his two-seam fastball, but after getting ahead early in counts he couldn’t put anyone away, the defense behind him didn’t help either.  Feldman could only last 4.1 innings giving up six runs, two earned, on seven hits while walking three and striking out three to fall to 0-2 on the season.  The turning point in my opinion was the ineffectiveness of Hisanori Takahashi out of the pen.  Takahashi went 1.2 innings giving up one run on two hits while walking two, and striking out two.  One of those walks was to opposing pitcher Ryan Vogelsong with the bases loaded to tie the game at five.  Michael Bowden, Shawn Camp, and James Russell all had scoreless appearances.

Up Next – The weather might be slightly better tomorrow, meaning that thing they call the sun might actually show its face, yes the sun has a face.  But temps are only supposed to be in the low 40’s again and there is a chance for afternoon showers.  Once things get started it will be Carlos Villanueva against Matt Cain.

Cubs April 11 box

Cubs April 11 box 1

Game Highlights:

Anthony Rizzo’s two-run homer
Lillibridge’s two-run single

Thanks for reading,
– George

April 11, 2013 – Giants @ Cubs; Lineups!

Looks like the game will get in today, it’s gloomy, and damp, but the rain looks to have moved out of the area for now.  Fingers crossed that they get it in today, should be an exciting weekend of baseball with the defending champ in town.  Scott Feldman makes his Wrigley debut as a Cub today, and he will be opposed by Ryan Vogelsong who has struggled in the early going.

April 11 lineups

 

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
– George

Series Preview – Giants @ Cubs; April 11 – April 14, 2013

Ah, Spring in Chicago, either it’s great or horrible, usually no in between.  Hopefully the weather cooperates today, and all weekend as the Cubs welcome the defending champion San Francisco Giants to town for a four game set.  Should be some great baseball on display this weekend, hopefully for both teams.  As usual the Giants boast of formidable pitching staff that will most definitely pose a challenge for the Cubs anemic offense.

Last Series:

The Cubs split the two game series with the Brewers as the final game was rained out.

The Giants swept the Rockies in a three game series at home.

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Thursday, April 11, 2013 – 1:20 PM CST on CSN Chicago
  • Friday, April 12, 2013 – 1:20 PM CST on CSN Chicago
  • Wednesday, April 13, 2013 – 12:05 PM CST on FOX
  • Sunday, April 14, 2013 – 1:20 PM CST on WGN TV

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Scott Feldman (0-1, 7.71)
– Career vs. Giants (4 appearances, 2 GS)  (0-3, 5.54)

Game Two – Carlos Villanueva (0-0, 1.35)
– Career vs. Giants (13 appearances, 1 GS) (2-1, 4.15)

Game Three – Jeff Samardzija (1-1, 2.63)
– Career vs. Giants (6 appearances, 1 GS) (0-0, 2.53)

Game Four – Edwin Jackson (0-2, 5.73)
– Career vs. Giants (5 appearances, 4 GS) (2-2, 4.73)

Giants:

Game One – Ryan Vogelsong (0-1, 8.44)
– Career vs. Cubs (15 appearances, 9 GS)  (4-5, 5.73)

Game Two – Matt Cain (0-1, 8.38)
– Career vs. Cubs (13 GS) (6-2, 2.45)

Game Three – Madison Bumgarner (2-0, 1.32)
– Career vs. Cubs (6 GS) (3-2, 2.79)

Game Four – Tim Lincecum (1-0, 4.91)
– Career vs. Cubs (10 GS) (4-4, 3.43)

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not:

Something happened in the Brewers series, the Cubs found some offense, not only offense, but clutch offense.  In both games the Cubs mounted comebacks, one successful, and one not so successful.  Regardless, it was good to see guys having good at bats and driving the ball when they needed to.  Welington Castillo has been a consistent threat at the plate since day one for the Cubs, he’s hitting .381 on the season with two doubles, a home run, and five RBI’s.  Nate Schierholtz is also swinging a hot bat as he is hitting .304 on the season, and sports an impressive .385 OBP.  Alfonso Soriano is scuffling, he’s back to missing his pitch and then getting himself out on the pitchers pitch.  He’s hitting .194 on the season and has no extra base hits, or RBI’s.  The Cubs pitching is starting to show some dents, but for the most part the starters have been great.  Hector Rondon has been very good out of the pen, while Shawn Camp has struggled of late.

It’s a former Cub that is leading the offensive attack for the Giants, Angel Pagan is hitting .361 in the early going.  Pablo Sandoval is also swinging a hot bat hitting .345 on the season with two home runs and six RBI’s, and has only struck out once in 29 at bats.  Brandon Belt is struggling at the plate as he is only hitting .148 with only two extra base hits and no RBI’s.  The Cubs won’t see Barry Zito in this series, usually that’s a bad thing, but not this year, Zito started on his comeback trail last year, and has continued it this year as he hasn’t given up a run so far this year in two starts over fourteen innings.  Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain have been knocked around a bit as Vogelsong has a 8.44 ERA, and Cain has a 8.38 ERA, when was the last time you saw that?

Bold Prediction:

The Cubs usually play up to their competition, at home at least, I think they play well enough to split this four game series.  If they get a surprisingly solid performance from Feldman and Villanueva they might take three of four.

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
– George

Comeback Successful! Cubs Even Series With Brewers

Cubs 4-9 line

Full Box Score

One day after the Cubs teased us all with the possibility of a thrilling comeback they actually delivered.  Trailing 3-0 early because of mostly defensive miscues the Cubs pitching shut the door and for the first time all year the offense sprung to life when the team needed it the Schierholtz 4-9most.  After inching closer on RBI ground outs from Rizzo in the 5th and Castro in the 7th the Cubs found a new level of clutch tying the game in the seventh then breaking it open in the eighth inning.  The last two games the Cubs have shown some fight with two comebacks, well one and a half, and at this point that’s all you can ask for, a team that fights.

At The Plate – Finally some production from the top of the order, after two listless at bats David DeJesus broke out.  DeJesus was 3-for-5 with a double, two RBI’s, and two runs scored.  Anthony Rizzo showed a much better approach tonight as he went 1-for-2 with a huge game tying single off of lefty Michael Gonzalez (previously 0-for-6 vs LHP), he also had two walks, and two RBI’s.  Scott Hairston registered the game winning RBI with a sac fly in the eighth inning to give the Cubs a 4-3 lead.

On The Mound – Another outstanding effort from Travis Wood who could have easily mailed it in after a rough second inning in which his defense let him down.  Wood ended up going 6.1 innings giving up three runs, two earned, on seven hits while walking three and striking out six.  Hector Rondon continued his spotless work out of the bullpen as he worked two-thirds of an inning giving up nothing.  Carlos Marmol entered the game in eighth, and I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one holding my breath.  Marmol was effective, he worked one inning giving up a triple and the was it, he was bailed out by a spectacular play by Castro to end the eighth and keep the game tied at three.  Marmol ended up getting the win as Kyuji Fujikawa earned the save, Kyuji worked the ninth giving up one hit and striking out two to earn his second save of the season.

Up Next – The rubber game of the series as Scott Feldman makes his Wrigley Field debut against Brewers newcomer Kyle Lohse.  The weather is supposed to be craptastic, we’ll see if this one gets in, scheduled first pitch is 7:05 PM CST.

Stat Of The Night – David DeJesus had two hits on the season coming into this one, he had three hits tonight.

Cubs April 9 box

Cubs April 9 Box 1

Game Highlights:

Castro’s RBI groundout
Hairston’s sac fly puts Cubs in front
Game saving play by Castro
Rizzo’s RBI groundout
Rizzo’s huge RBI double to tie the game
DeJesus pads the lead

Thanks for reading,
– George

Series Preview – Brewers @ Cubs; April 8 – April 10, 2013

Finally some home baseball!  There really is nothing like the home opener at Wrigley, I love watching baseball there, on TV or in person.  The Cubs welcome the banged up Brewers to town for a three game set.  The Cubs need to find some hits and more importantly runs, both have been at a premium so far this season.  The Brewers are struggling as well, I mentioned they were banged up, they are also losing, five straight in fact.

Last Series:

Cubs suffered a three game sweep at the hands of the Braves in Atlanta

The Brewers were swept in a three game series by the D-Backs at home

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Monday, April 8, 2013 – 1:20 PM CST on WGN TV
  • Tuesday, April 9, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on WGN TV
  • Wednesday, April 10, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on CSN+ (click to find your channel)

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Edwin Jackson (0-1, 3.60 ERA)
– Career vs. Milwaukee (7 GS)  (3-2, 3.06 ERA)

Game Two – Travis Wood (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
– Career vs. Milwaukee (7 appearances, 6 GS) (3-2, 3.40 ERA)

Game Three – Scott Feldman (0-1, 7.71 ERA)
– Career vs. Milwaukee (1 GS) (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Brewers:

Game One – Marco Estrada (0-0, 7.20)
– Career vs. Cubs (8 appearances, 3 GS)  (2-0, 3.86 ERA)

Game Two – Wily Peralta (0-1, 6.75 ERA)
– Career vs. Cubs (First appearance)

Game Three – Kyle Lohse (0-0, 1.50 ERA)
– Career vs. Cubs (16 GS) (4-4, 5.17 ERA)

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not:

The Cubs are coming off a tough series in Atlanta where they should have had at least one win, maybe two.  Unfortunately the bats remained cold as they rank 29th in the Majors in average, on base percentage, runs, and slugging percentage.  The Cubs best hitter right now is Welington Castillo, “beef” is hitting .357 (5-for-14) on the season.  There are a number of Cubs hitters struggling as I mentioned, Valbuena, DeJesus, and Soriano would have to be at the top of that list.  The pitching on the other hand has been outstanding, sans Carlos Marmol of course.  The Cubs have a team ERA of 3.75 which is 14th best in the Majors, and that includes the last two games where they gave up a total of eleven run.

To say the Brewers are banged up might be an understatement.  Ryan Braun has missed the last three games, and might miss the series opener today, Jean Segura is hobbled, and Aramis Ramirez is out of the lineup indefinitely, and Corey Hart hasn’t played a game yet.  The Brewers have been scoring runs, and hitting as of late, but three of the guys that I mentioned as being hurt are their top hitters so far.  Rickie Weeks is having a bounce back year so far as he is hitting .333 on the season so far.  Norichika Aoki has been on fire as well as he is hitting .370 (10-for-27) in the early going.  Pitching is an issue for the Brewers as they have a team ERA of 5.68 “good” for 28th in the Majors.

Bold Prediction:

I think the Cubs get the bats going this week at Wrigley, finally feeling comfortable being at home.  The Cubs take two out of three from the Brewers this week, winning the first and third game of the series.

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
– George

Cubs Still Searching for Offense in Loss to Braves

april 5 line score

More of the same from the Cubs offense tonight in Atlanta as they could only manage five hits and one run in a 4-1 loss.  Sure Mike Minor was pounding the zone, but Cubs hitters made things way too easy on Braves pitching by Rizzo 4-5having way too many aggressive at bats.  The Cubs have two losses now, both with the “lefty lineup” on display, meaning DeJesus and Schierholtz on the bench.  Not saying that they would have made a difference, but the Cubs always seem to struggle against lefties.  Scott Feldman was all over the place, but battled, the result was being over 100 pitches and out the game before the end of the fifth inning.  It’s not the end of the World, the Cubs are 2-2 which is probably a fair record at this point, if not better than it should be given the offensive struggles.

At The Plate – Another night, another low number in the hit column for the Cubs.  Alfonso Soriano, Scott Hairston, Welington Castillo, and Alberto Gonzalez were all 1-for-3.  Hairston provided the only offense of the night with a solo home run in the fifth inning off of Minor.

On The Mound – Scott Feldman made his Cubs debut and really never settled into a groove.  For the most part he was able to pitch around trouble but couldn’t get out of the 5th.  Feldman went 4.2 innings giving up four runs on five hits while walking four and striking out one.  The bright spot was the bullpen, Michael Bowden and Hector Rondon shut the door over the last 2.1 innings but it was to no avail.

Up Next – Carlos Villanueva will make his Cubs debut opposite Julio Teheran at 6:00 PM CST.  The Cubs will have their hands full again as Teheran is a high-class talent that will give them fits if they aren’t patient.

Stat Of The Night – The Cubs have 16 hits in the first four games of the season.

April 5 box score

 

April 5 box score 1

 

Game Highlights:

Scott Hairston goes deep

Thanks for reading,
– George